Thursday, June 24, 2010

Gazpacho with a tropical twist

I am honored that Lazaro has asked me to be the guest blogger for Lazaro Cooks! today. Since Lazaro and Nancy share the hosting, I thought it might be fun to make a soup that would suit both of their tastes. I chose gazpacho, but decided to garnished it with a tropical twist – mango. After all, Lazaro does live in south Florida.

Please click over to Lazaro Cooks! to read more. 

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

BLT salad with buttermilk dressing and crumbled gorgonzola cheese for an easy, comforting meal

We’ve been traveling a little lately, both on the roads and byways, but also the virtual highway. As you know we recently visited Larry and Bev at “Almost Heaven South” on beautiful Lake Tellico and attended a wonderful blogger get-together.

We then headed south on the interstate and stopped at Roswell Air Force Base near Macon, Georgia and toured their Aviation Museum on our way to Florida. There are four hangers each with a theme. Hanger One was the favorite. It is devoted to WW II with each area featuring a specific plane on the ground with workers nearby doing the service work in preparation for the next mission.

My husband Meakin is a licensed pilot and has been for some 40 odd years. We don’t fly much anymore, but I can count on the fact that if an airplane flies over head he’s going to look up.

We’ve also been traveling on the virtual highway, searching for our ancestors. My heart skipped a beat when I first saw the words Plymouth, Massachusetts associated with both of our relatives. Amazingly, it turns out, we are both descendants of The Mayflower.

I am a descendent of John Alden, who is said to be the first person from the Mayflower to set foot on Plymouth Rock in 1620. He was one of the founders of Plymouth Colony and the seventh signer of the Mayflower Compact.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, also one of Alden’s descendants, wrote the famous verse, The Courtship of Miles Standish. According to the legend, John Alden started out to win the hand of Priscilla for his friend Miles Standish, but instead won her hand for himself. Priscilla’s famous quote being, “Why don’t you speak for yourself, John?” They married in 1623.

Meakin is a descendant of John Howland, also one of the founders of Plymouth Colony. You may have read about the man who was accidently thrown overboard the Mayflower in your history books. It was John Howland. One night he grew restless below and stepped onto the decks above for some air. Howland was from the English inland and quickly discovered that in a gale the decks of a ship were no place for a landsman.  Suddenly when the Mayflower lurched forward, Howland tumbled into the sea. Fortunately he managed to grab a topsail halyard from the ship that was floating in the water and was hauled back aboard safely.

Both the Alden Home and the Howland Home are museums, so now we’re planning a trip to New England in the fall to tour Plymouth and then on to Maine to stuff ourselves with lobster until it starts to come out of our ears.

Whether we’re traveling the car or on the virtual highway, often we’re tired when dinner time rolls around. That’s when I pull out a simple and easy comfort food recipe, such as this BLT salad. Fortunately I’ve been able to find “Ugly” heirloom tomatoes in our market for several months now so that’s what I used. The “Ugly” heirlooms are full of flavor and with one taste you’ll swear it’s already the middle of summer. If you can find apple wood smoked bacon, such as Nueskie’s from Wisconsin, so much the better.

BLT salad with buttermilk dressing and gorgonzola cheese
Adapted from The Beach House Cookbook by Barbara Scott-Goodman

¼ pound thick, apple wood smoked bacon, cut in large dice
2 cups mixed salad greens
2 cups torn romaine lettuce leaves
2 large ripe tomatoes, preferably heirloom, diced
3-4 tablespoons crumbled gorgonzola cheese

½ cup good mayonnaise, such as Hellman’s
1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ cup low-fat buttermilk
2 tablespoons chopped red onion
2 tablespoons each of chopped fresh basil and Italian flat-leaf parsley
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Sauté bacon until crisp and drain well on a paper towel to cool. While the bacon is cooking, whisk the mayonnaise, vinegar, lemon juice together in a small bowl. Add the buttermilk, onion, basil and parsley. Whisk again and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Toss the greens together with the dressing in a large salad bowl. Taste again for seasonings. Arrange greens on a platter and top with tomatoes, bacon and crumbled gorgonzola. Serves 4 – 6.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Blogger get-together and BBQ at “Almost Heaven South” on Lake Tellico in Tennessee

Larry’s BBQ ribs

Larry of Big Dude, Katherine of Smoky Mountain Café and Chris of Nibble Me This hosted an east Tennessee blogger’s get together at Larry’s home on Lake Tellico. Larry and his wife Bev have a fabulous covered deck right on the lake outfitted with a complete kitchen, grill, sunning and relaxing area, boathouse with pontoon boat, canoe, and jet ski. They call is “Almost Heaven South” and it is a perfect description and a perfect place for a party. Here are some pictures we snapped. Be sure to visit the other’s blogs to see more food and fun.

Larry’s BBQ chicken drumsticks

Katherine’s authentic Louisiana jambalaya

Chris’ grilled asparagus and oranges

The finished presentation of asparagus and oranges

Chris’s corn on the grill with compound butter

My orange salad

A J (Katherine’s husband), Katherine and Larry

Chris, his son and A J

Alexis, Chris’ wife

Ladies table with Bev (Larry’s wife), Pat her sister, Pat a neighbor, and me

Katherine’s girls & their friends enjoying the canoe

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Grilled pork tenderloin with pomegranate reduction sauce

My husband Meakin loves to experiment with pork tenderloin recipes. About half the time he cooks the tenderloin inside and makes a port wine reduction sauce and other times he grills it outside, studded with garlic and rubbed with olive oil and chopped fresh rosemary. Today he’s grilled it as usual, but basted it in the final stages of cooking with a reduction of pomegranate juice, good English orange marmalade, Asian chili sauce and a little garlic. He emphasized the words “good orange marmalade” because he feels that the inexpensive American brands are too sweet for this. This recipe is perfect for an easy, summertime dinner.

Grilled Pork Tenderloin with a Pomegranate Reduction Sauce a la Meakin

1 small pork tenderloin, silver skin trimmed and discarded
1 large clove of garlic, sliced into slivers
Extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
A couple of tablespoons of finely chopped fresh rosemary, or to taste

Stud pork with slivers of garlic, coat in olive oil and season with salt, pepper and finely chopped fresh rosemary. Cut in half and grill over moderate to high heat on all sides to brown. Reduce the heat to low and baste with the pomegranate sauce (recipe below), turning and basting frequently.

The finished tenderloin should have a beautiful color and be about 150 degrees F for a nice pink medium. We like ours towards the rare side. Cook according to your desired degree of doneness. Slice and serve with the reduction sauce you've set aside.

Pomegranate Reduction Sauce
1 8-ounce bottle 100% pomegranate juice
1 tablespoon good orange marmalade
1 tablespoon Asian chili sauce
1 clove of garlic, crushed

Place ingredients in a small saucepan and cook over moderate heat to reduce by half. Allow to cool. Reserve half for serving with the pork and use the remainder for basting the pork. Serves 3 - 4.